I’ll be completely honest. One of the main reasons why I wanted to review Unsighted was because it looked so much like one of my personal favorite indies, Hyper Light Drifter. The influence is clear in the game’s aesthetic and gameplay mechanics. After my playthrough, it is obvious the title has many inspirations, ranging from HLD to The Legend of Zelda to Dark Souls. So many forebears could lead a game to lack originality. However, Unsighted manages to carve out its own identity and shine among its peers.
A world in ruin
In Unsighted, you control Alma, a powerful android. She wakes up in a lab, not remembering much due to a case of amnesia. After escaping the facility, which is armed with robots that have gone haywire, she meets up with the fairy-like Iris. Alma ends up in the central hub, Gear Village, where she encounters other androids like her and starts regaining her memories. It is here where the game’s central conceit is introduced.
Time is (not) on my side
As it turns out, the androids in Unsighted‘s world of Arcadia are suffering from a lack of energy. This energy, called Anima, is what gives the robots consciousness. Every character Alma interacts with has a countdown attached to them. Once this time limit is up, the robots will become Unsighted, meaning they become hostile. Alma must choose whom to focus on saving throughout her adventure. This requires a lot of thought because all of the characters you can save benefit you in some way, be it with a rare item or a change in the story. (There are different endings as well.)
This countdown can be managed with Meteor Dust, which Alma can use to extend an android’s time by 24 hours. She has to be careful in its usage because it is in limited supply. Also, Alma may need to use it on herself, since her Anima is running out, too. In my travels, I met a mysterious figure that had the power to take time away from other robots and gift it unto Alma. If you’re into being a bad guy, that’s certainly a route to take. Although, there may be merit in combating this peculiar stranger…
The time limit in Unsighted initially frustrated me. It is not like The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, where you can reset back to the starting point and save some of your progress. When you have a vast, interconnected world as Unsighted does, it’s hard to explore because you are dreading that countdown timer. Thankfully, you can play the game in Explorer Mode, where you can slow down the passage of time, as well as turn on invincibility, increase your stamina, and make battles more forgiving. I chose to just slow down time, which made the game much more manageable and enjoyable.
Freedom of exploration
Taking a cue from The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, Unsighted contains a variety of areas and dungeons you can explore in any order. (It offers a recommended path should you be into that sort of thing.) It’s a wonderful world to traverse, too. Arcadia is full of colorful environments, with areas containing shortcuts to each other and secret paths to uncover. The pixel graphics are quite pleasing, and the character models are full of life when you engage in conversation. Also, I enjoyed seeing a queer love story being set up between Alma and her mentor, Raquel.
Gameplay your way
The free rein Unsighted gives you to explore also extends to its gameplay. Your weapon loadout is yours to customize. Do you use a swift weapon like a sword or a heavier battle ax that is slower but does more damage? Also, there are guns you can shoot and reload quickly with skilled button presses, a shuriken you can control like a boomerang, ice grenades you can place in water to create platforms, and a spinning top straight out of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. You can only hold two weapons at once, so you must strategize and change your loadout depending on the situation.
Alma has access to anvils, as well, where she can use a blueprint to combine materials into weapons and cogs. Cogs grant temporary buff effects, like an increase in attack power or an instant revive after falling in battle, so it behooves the player to always have some active at any given moment. Finally, there are chips Alma can equip that give more permanent effects, like extra health, stamina, etc. Alma can only equip a certain amount of these chips, though she can buy more at rest spots called Terminals.
Dying causes you to lose your currency, though you can gain it back by returning to where you perished. Terminals are used to heal and teleport, but restoring your life causes enemies to respawn. It’s very Dark Souls-like.
Battle it out and dungeon crawl
Unsighted really shines in its battles. Alma can jump, run, and parry attacks from foes. The parry is essential: Doing so at the last second stuns enemies for a bit, and the next hit does a ton of damage. Syringes are used to heal, and they are restored by damaging enemies. The only thing I didn’t like was the stamina bar. When depleted, Alma is stuck in limbo for a while and is open to attacks. Luckily, this can be adjusted in the options.
The dungeons are another high point. They all have creative puzzles, shortcuts to discover, and rare items to find. And like in Zelda, they contain a unique item you must use to conquer them. Also, the bosses are challenging and a blast to battle.
Unsighted is a great adventure. At first, it may lack a distinct identity due to its many influences, and its stamina system and time limit can cause frustration and anxiety. However, players that stick with it or adjust some of its more grating aspects will find a lot to love. Give it a whirl if you are into Metroidvanias with an emphasis on planning and strategy.
A Nintendo Switch review code for Unsighted was provided by the publisher.